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cinequest, for more information on this movie, as well as get a complete guide to the festival. nbc nightly news is next, we've got more local news in the bay area at 6:00. state of emergency on the ground here in indiana. and across the tornado zone. dozens are dead, entire towns destroyed. tonight, amid widespread devastation from the massive outbreak of storms, incredible stories of survival. also tonight, rush limbaugh apologizes. what he's now saying about his crude tirade against a woman that set off a fire storm. hold the phone, american troops crying foul. why they say they're being ripped off while making that rare call home. and the salute. from 3-year-old john john to his fallen father, remembering the man behind one of the iconic images of our time.
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captions paid for by nbc-universal television. good evening. all around me as far as the eye can see, a tattered landscape littered with the remnants of people's lives. this is henryville. officials say it was likely an ef-4 tornado that struck here. this is one of the hardest hit places from the parade of punishing tornadoes that went up and down the country from the great lakes down to the gulf yesterday. all told, more than 100 reports of tornados since yesterday. that's more than we would typically see in the entire month of march. all seen in less than 48 hours. as for the death toll, as we feared when the sun came up this morning, there were more discoveries of bodies. officials now say at least 36
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people have been killed in these tornadoes, including the family of a little girl whose own survival against the odds stands as a symbol of hope amid a backdrop of despair here. we have full coverage up and down the disaster zone for you tonight. we'll begin in the town of marysville, indiana. that's where nbc's tom costello is tonight. good evening. >> reporter: hi, lester, good evening to you. and this is what marysville looks like right now. this is a town of about 1,200. a small country town in indiana. it is, as you can see, virtually gone. virtually every house in this community is like this. if it is standing, it is certainly not inhabitable. you mentioned the ef-4 category rating. that means winds of 175 miles per hour across this path. it is nothing but destruction. a bone-chilling sunrise here in marysville this morning as daylight revealed a devastated
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landscape. in nearby chelsea, the families were coming to grips with the personal toll the storm has taken. >> i can't even begin to tell you how i feel about that. that poor baby. he was only 4. >> reporter: terry and carol jackson died when their home was torn apart. also dead their 4-year-old great grandson, ripped from the arms of his mother. she is now in the hospital. survivors' personal images capture the moment the storm tore through. >> it looked like it was rolling instead of spinning. but it was wide. >> reporter: the tornado tore the clemper family home from its foundation, dropping it 100 yards away. on the road into henryville, indiana, trees and homes have been stripped or destroyed. lives upended. more than a dozen people died in southern indiana. the national weather service's chief meteorologist is here. hoping to determine the size of the storm. >> looking at the damage, trying to figure out the width. >> reporter: today as the growl of chain saws replaced the roar, indiana's governor described the
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damage as incomprehensible. >> all the things that mere mortals can do aren't enough sometimes. >> reporter: among the harrowing stories, a 2-year-old girl found alone in a field. >> we put arm bands on the children. just to identify them and found out pretty quickly that nobody came with this little girl. >> reporter: word that the child's parents, brother and sister were all killed. she's in critical condition in louisville. in kentucky, at least 17 people had been killed. 300 injured. >> it chokes you up. you don't know where your family is. it chokes you. >> reporter: four were killed in west liberty alone. the town reeling from another deadly storm that hit 48 hours earlier. this church was over 100 years old. now a jumbled pile of lumber. >> holy cow. oh, my gosh. >> reporter: across the midsection, more than 100 tornados on friday from the gulf states to the great lakes. in ohio, where three people
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died, there was barely enough time to take cover. >> we went into the bathroom and all closed the door and peeked out the window. we started to see trees coming out of the ground. >> reporter: one person also dead in alabama. the town of harvest flattened. they haven't even finished rebuilding from a tornado that hit less than ten months ago. >> we had just got in in january and moved back into the house. and getting ready to move that mobile home. it picked it up, turned it around and slammed it into the house. >> reporter: heavy damage as well in north carolina where crews are now working to restore power. as a third of the country spent the day trying to recover from a day of devastation. and heartbreak. we have had even more reports of bad weather today down on the south. a confirmed report of a tornado in north carolina. in georgia, one person now confirmed dead as a result of the storm. lester, it's as if a huge chunk of the country has suffered a deep, deep scar. back to you. >> tom costello, in marysville, thank you.
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the city of west liberty, kentucky, was one of the hardest hit areas. that's where we find weather channel's mike bettes tonight. mike, good evening. >> reporter: good evening to you, lester. you know it was just before dark last night that a half mile wide tornado struck with such force, and as you can see, these buildings were reduced to rubble. this is a devastating day for this community. it's been search and rescue all day long today as this town has been on lockdown. the only people allowed in are k-9 units on horse patrol and foot patrol, going to buildings sometimes searching not one time but three times, searching for victims that they may have not seen the first couple of times. also power crews lining the streets. there's not one single building in west liberty in downtown that's gone untouched by this tornado. potentially winds greater than 135 miles per hour which would make this an ef-3 tornado. the governor has declared a state of emergency here in kentucky. it was earlier today when we spoke with the mayor.
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he was visibly shaken by what has happened to his town. it's a tight-knit community of just 2,000 people. and lester, there is debris everywhere, and the one death that they had here is one death too many, as the mayor tls us. >> mike bettes for us, thanks. it was assumed if anything in this town could stand up to a tornado it would have been the brick and steel frame henryville school. at first glance, the twisted rubble, it appears it wasn't a match. but it was strong enough to protect the handful of students and adults who found themselves in a no-man's-land when the tornado came calling. when he surveys the damage to his elementary school, principal glen riggs can't help but get emotional. >> i'm sorry. my 4 and 5-year-olds that would have been in there. >> reporter: would have been there except officials made the decision to send the 1,200 k-12
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in this school complex home early. as it turned out, an hour before the tornado struck. bus driver chris spencer was about to drop off the last student when the sky darkened. >> we headed back to the school because i knew she lived in a mobile home. it would not a safe place for her to be. we came to the school. got her in the safety. >> reporter: a handful of other students were forced to come back, too, including 14-year-old preston perry. moments after he made it back to school, the bus he had been on became a flying projectile. what were people saying, what were they doing? >> they were screaming and saying get down, it's here. and then the ceiling fell in on a couple of us. i thought that we were all going to die. principal riggs, meantime, and younger students and faculty huddled in an interior office. >> when we were in there when the first vacuum came, it was just -- i mean, literally it felt like your skin was going to
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pull off your body. >> reporter: that was before it hit? >> that was before it hit. once it hit, then all this crashing was what we were hearing. >> reporter: amazingly, no one was hurt. so this is the way you came out? >> this is the way we came out. >> reporter: outside, outside unrecognizable jumble. >> i thought this cannot be real. and my god, it is. it is. >> the seats. >> reporter: today, 6-year-old madelyn evans pointed out to her mom what's left of the bus that did manage to get her and several of her classmates home ahead of the tornado. >> truly it's a miracle that those kids came out alive. >> reporter: she's not the only grateful one. the school disintegrated. you saw your bus, what were your thoughts? >> that i was glad that i wasn't sitting on it because nobody would have survived it. >> reporter: school officials say there are no other places that can easily accommodate all the students displaced by the disaster, but they acknowledge a plan and decision will have to be reached soon.
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now, let's talk about the storms. weather channel meteorologist jim cantore joining me here in henryville. everyone is asking why so many, jim? >> well, it's the pattern that we have. we have the same jet stream that was in place last year when we had the severe weather. you look at the set-up, we have an upper low to the northwest of all this action. that allows the cold air to move over the warm, moist air. remember, we don't have a snow pack. we haven't had a winter. as warm air comes north there's nothing to modify it. like taking a lid off the boiling pot of water. once that air starts to go, it goes and it goes in a big hurry here. the 150-mile-per-hour jet stream creates a large scale area of tornado destruction. as you can see here, we're definitely looking at lot of tornadoes. 12 states have reported over 100 tornados making this the biggest -- >> then people wonder if it's an early start to the season. does it mean it will be a longer season? >> well, it is. we have already started it essentially. there's no reason to think why april, may and june, which is
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bigger months for tornadoes, won't be equally as active and perhaps more. we are in for a long year. >> thank you, jim cantore. i appreciate it. i want to turn to other news. late word of an apology from rush limbaugh to the georgetown law school student caught up in the birth control battle in washington. limbaugh's comments about sandra fluke landed him in the middle of a firestorm leaving several of the advertisers to pull their ads from his show. part of the statement posted on limbaugh's website tonight reads my choice of words was not the best and in the intent to be humorous, i created a national stir. i sincerely apologize to ms. fluke for the insulting word choices. and voters are having their say in the washington caucuses and the candidates are campaigning in ohio just 72 hours from super tuesday when 11 states will be up for grabs. for the latest on all this, we want to bring in "meet the press" moderator david gregory. david, let me first get your thoughts on the limbaugh apology. was it beginning to affect the republican race in some way? >> i don't think the republicans
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are happy to have this fight when it came to rush limbaugh's comments. i think there's a lot of conservatives, whether it's rick santorum or gingrich or others, although romney has hedged on this, who are happy to energize this debate by talk of religious freedom being infringed upon by president obama. that's their argument. that's their view. it's resonating on some voters. but what limbaugh did in going after this georgetown law student without a basis of fact in terms of what her testimony was, was to take it to a much more offensive level which is why i think he apologized if you read the statement. i think there are a lot of republicans who are worried this is "a," a fight that the republicans should not be having right now over contraception of all things which is a pretty much a settled matter in terms of access for women. not only is birth control but a matter of women's health, but he escalated it to the degree and there are female voters who are energized on the democratic side of this.
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>> let me get your thoughts on upcoming super tuesday. ohio is considered the big prize, but how important is it for santorum and romney to create some distance with ohio being key to that? >> it's a general election battleground, and if you're mitt romney you want to create some momentum after winning in michigan and arizona. if he can win ohio and say, look, i won both ohio and florida, he might get a long way toward becoming the presumptive nominee, getting the party to coe c -- coalesce around him. on the other side, if it's santorum, he has an opportunity. air is getting out of the balloon, but if he can win ohio he's back in the hunt. >> david gregory, thanks. a program note, facing a pivotal day on super tuesday, newt gingrich will be among david's guests sunday morning on "meet the press." in ohio today, hundreds of people lined the street to honor one of the teenagers killed in a shooting at the local high school earlier this week. 16-year-old daniel parmenter was
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laid to rest, the first of three planned funerals. still ahead, as "nbc nightly news" continues from henryville, indiana, b.p.'s billions. word of major deal for victims of the gulf oil spill. and also, are american troops serving overseas being ripped off while making the rare call to loved ones back home? our nbc news investigation is still ahead.
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back now with an nbc news investigation. are american troops being ripped off overseas? soldiers claim they're being gouged on phone calls to their families as they head to and from the combat zone. we get a report tonight from our senior investigative correspondent lisa myers. >> reporter: richard quarter and his unit were on their way to iraq last may when the plane landed in germany to refuel. quarter used these pay phones inside a secure military area to call his family in texas. paying with his debit card. >> going into the combat zone. i wanted her to know everything was going to be fine and i was going to come home. >> reporter: he left a quick message for his wife dharma. >> hi, honey, i love you. >> reporter: how much were you charged for that? >> $41 for that three-second voicemail. >> reporter: sergeant jeremy burns was shocked to pay a total of $176 for two calls he says
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were less than five minutes each. how do you feel about that? >> a little ticked off. pretty ridiculous. >> reporter: now sergeant quarter is suing the company he says gouged him and thousands of other troops. the company bbg communications is headquartered here in san diego. >> it's terrible that they would do that to us. we fight for their freedom. and they're going to take our money, rip us off? >> reporter: internet blogs and emails reveal complaints about bbg for years. robbed by bbg. half our unit used this stupid phone. bbg and its sister company bbg global says they do provide some services for these calls. but that the phones are controlled by a german firm which charges the same rate on all credit card calls from its pay phones in germany and that soldiers can get rates by pressing 3. bbg global says allegations that
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troops are being overcharged are untrue and offensive. but soldiers asked why the phones won't take prepaid calling cards that many of them carry. forcing them to use credit cards. the better business bureau has had so many complaints from troops that it gives bbg an "f" rating. >> i think they're being taken advantage of. i think they're being targeted. i find that disgusting. >> reporter: we asked germany's largest phone company what it would have charged for the same call. they said about $10, not $41. the u.s. transportation command which is in charge of moving troops around the world told us it doesn't have jurisdiction over these phones in germany. but it is concerned about the troops and says notices have now been posted to warn of the costs of calling home. lisa myers, nbc news, washington. when we come back, saluting the man behind one of the iconic images of our time.
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there is word tonight of multibillion dollar settlement for thousands of victims in the 2010 oil spill in the gulf of mexico. our chief environmental affairs correspondent anne thompson has details. >> reporter: good evening. the proposed settlement involves up to 120,000 shrimpers, oystermen, business owners and individuals all impacted by the oil spill. b.p. estimates it will pay $7.8 billion to settle their claims which fall into two categories -- economic losses and medical claims. $2.3 billion is set aside to pay for the seafood industry losses alone. the settlement will put current claims administrator ken
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feinberg out of a job. a new administrator will be appointed by the court. feinberg has been accused of some of being stingy in his assessment of the losses. under the proposal, b.p. does not admit any liability. b.p. does not settle the civil claims filed by the federal government or the states of louisiana and alabama. lester? >> all right, thanks. also tonight, there's a brewing scandal involving the nfl's new orleans saints. the league says saints players maintained a bounty program over the last three seasons involving payments for players who targeted opponents with the aim of injuring them. the nfl says more than 20 players and at least one assistant coach are involved. punishments could include suspensions and fines. the name stan sterns might not have been a household name, but a photograph he took became a symbol of our time.
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it was sterns who snapped the picture of john kennedy, jr., jo john john, saluting his father's coffin at the slain president's funeral in 1963. sterns was assigned to cover the funeral for united press international. he died yesterday at a hospice in maryland. he was 76 years old. and when we come back, family, friends and strangers all lending a hand in this time of need.
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back once again from indiana where we have seen something else going on here today beyond
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the unimaginable destruction, ly the loss and heartbreak. we have seen the human spirit prevail with acts of kindness among friends, family and sometimes strangers helping strangers. that story tonight from nbc's john yang. >> reporter: benny carr is packing up a lifetime of memories with a lot of helping hands. >> all these people are my wonderful friends. >> reporter: after the powerful tornado ripped the top off the house that has been in her family for three generations next to the demolished high school, people started to show up to see how they could help. they have been showing up all day long? >> yes. >> reporter: how does that make you feel? >> very blessed. we say god blesses us. but you don't realize it until you're in a situation that you know god has blessed you. when you're blessed with friends and family that really care, when the going gets tough, those people don't leave. they come to help. >> reporter: margie drove ten miles and then walked.
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>> the lord just led me here. i couldn't -- i was driving all the way down and i walked down. >> reporter: how far did you have to walk? >> a quarter of a mile or so. not too far. i just thought i needed to come. >> reporter: it was a scene repeated countless times in the small towns that dot this devastated corner of indiana. >> we live in a very generous community. >> reporter: and in charlestown where people collected money for those hard hit by the tornado. in knabb where volunteers helped sort through debris for prized possessions. >> could have been my house. by the grace of god it wasn't so we're here to help each other. >> reporter: betty carver and her partner stephen thought they'd die as they rode it out in the basement. an experience that softens the pain of losing beloved family heirlooms. >> i could walk out without all
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of this because we have so much love, and again, things don't matter. people do. >> reporter: a feeling shared by so many tonight across this storm-ravaged region. john yang, nbc news, henryville, indiana. and that's "nbc nightly news" for this saturday. i'm lester holt reporting from henryville, indiana. see you tomorrow morning from here on "today" and again on "nightly news." good night. -- captions by vitac -- good saturday evening. i'm
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